Live from Cairo (3)

UPDATE 2:43PM Reuters, Obama throws Mubarak under the bus:

Update from the White House: Obama, in calls to foreign leaders, supported an "orderly transition" in Egypt to government responsive to aspirations of people.

* * *

[NOTE Today, I've intermixed "quick hits" from other blogs throughout, so be sure to scroll through for lots of interesting stuff --lambert]

11:00PM Al Jazeera still on, with images from Tahrir Square, though no longer revealing the location of its correspondents. [UPDATE: The adminstration's call for Mubarak to restore Al Jazeera, as opposed to its calls to restore Twitter and FaceBook, is conspicuous by its absence.]

Anch: People still in Tahrir Square, defying curfew, helicopter, airplane. Chants. Square very full.

[Anch: Anchor; Rep: Reporter; Int: Interviewee; Mub: Mubarak; MB: Muslim Brotherhood; ElB: ElBaradei; E: Egypt, Egyptians; TS: Tahrir Square]

Int: Elbaradei would fill the leadership void for protesters. Source close to Elbaradei, expect Elbaradei to appear in Square [!!].

Crawler: Elbaradei to head to Tahrir Square to join protests.

Crawler: Hundreds of judges join protesters in Tahrir Square.

Sidebars

  1. Juan Cole on neo-liberalism
  2. Numerian on Davos

Crawler: Some panic selling in Middle East stock market.

Anch: ELB and family "may well be" on the way to the Square [sources in the Square]. Numbers shift in square? Rep: It was cold, but more and more arrive over the last hours.

Anch: [failed connection with analyst in Cairo]

Rep Alexandria: Remarkable scenes, thousands chanting on joining, "Come down, Egyptians, come down" [#7] [to watchers from windows] Want Mub prosecuted and sent to gallows. Signs they carry are in English [media savvy!] [#8] Painting on the street "Down with Mub" so people can follow [#26]. Neighborhood controllers letting them through [#198] [!!].

Crawler: MB says Elbaradei to negotiate for opposition.

Anch: [Alexandria off] Communications difficult as networks cut off or suspended.

Rep: Some believe ElB not spent enough time in E, flew in only 48 hours after protests began, so is not clear how they will welcome him. Not clear how other countries will see ElB, who will be in interim govt.

Anch: A few hours ago, MB happy ElB represent them in negotiations. Rep: That would make a huge difference. Govt tried to blame MB but obviously false, was all E. ElB shows a united alternative to Mub.

Anch: 3000 "outlaws" arrested by military last night. Protesters turned back tanks [??]

Rep in DC: In the talk shows, Clinton: Mub needs to open "constructive dialog" to reform pol process, allow viable pol process, turn into a "vibrant democracy." Fair to say she's hinting Mub step aside, not answering whether US offer Mub asylum. Careful not to endorse any one actor. In O admin view, up to E people to determine their own destiny [Well, er. --lambert] Indicated US does not want to see a kind of govt like Iran [??]. Wants to maintain peace treaty with I, Suez canal access. [I can't believe I'm listening to the Sunday bobblehead shows on AJ. --lambert] Clinton clip: "Now is the time to move toward a national dialog, to create the political space for peaceful protest and peaceful opposition. Mub an important partner, made and kept peace with I, avoiding turmoil, violence, death."

Anch: US must be huddled in meetings. Rep: US trying to rehab image, suggest "reaching out to various different groups across E" to see what is going on and what people want. But "until they show their hand, you and I are speculating."

Anch: What are you seeing right now? Rep in Tahrir Sq: Sources, one thing ElB will do is call out to the military. Issue still remains: People are unsure exactly... Told by sources: The top will be directed to the military. Anch: How will he get the message to the masses? Rep: In contact with him, journalist. Primary objective is the people n Tahrir Square. Then a discussion about whether he can hold consultations, depending on what the reaction is on the street [#1].

Rep from burbs: Neighborhood watch set up traffic control. Security a great concern, people are "craving stability and security, a huge security vacuum" Anch: No pain, no gain? Rep: Very easy to interpret that way, but not sure that's accurate. Not go so far as to say people have nostalgia for Mub, but some feel nostalgia for the stability that exist. People "yearn for certainty." So simplifying to say people are willing to suffer to make things better. At freelance checkpoint, people handing out leaflets "It is your choice, what will you choose? Are you going to squander the people who have already died? Do not give the oppressors a pretext to crack down? Do not loot or create disorder." [#9] 14 parties signed it [#4]. Call to preserve museums and churches

Anch: Back to Square. Noise increasing.

[Helicopters. Jet. If ElB appears and Mub uses helicopters to drown him out, or worse, sends jets against the square (note promotion of Air Marshall as PM) that would be bad. ]

Crawler says that ElB is in Square, but AJ does not, and there's nothing evident from the behavior of the crowd. Ie, no speech being made, people still walking about.]

Tahrir Square Rep: Today, more tension between military and people. No flowers. Also image of Mub meeting with military. Could the military disperse the crowd? Difficult. People are adamant.

Anch: Information and Defense Ministries congratulate military on handling crowds.

Int Analyst: One million people in Tahrir Square [however, below, 100K. Too high and too low?] "in desperate need of a leader." ElBMub [?] brokered deal with ElB. We know has not gotten green light from US. He is filling this vacuum and it will be interesting to see what he has to say.

Anch: Pres and advisors behind closed doors. Why? Int analyst: Clear from crowds that it will be very difficult for Mub to continue. Have not seen anything yet from new appointees, very close to Mub. Interesting to see the next stage. Jets very low, maybe intimidate. At one point military cut off filming in Tahrir Sq so thought something "unpleasant," but did not work [Why?] Anch: Congratulate military why? Rep Army largely respected. And all the men at the top are from the Army. Pictures: "These are still under our wing."

Crawler: Sec forces redeployed across E tomorrow except from TS [don't know what that means].

Great stuff on the Guardian live blog here:

1. Not clear what ElB's reception will be.

2. MB on a government of national unity.

3. Military checked people for weapons, then let them into the TS [!!].

ElB in TS -- not broadcast, crawler -- "What we have begun cannot go back." [#1]

Anch: Can you hear? Rep: Not close enough. But we know his message has been escalating.

ElB crawler: Change can only come from within E.

[Very confusing. No visible speech made. Yet we have the crawler. No crowd reaction. What's going on? Am I seeing a tape loop of ElB? UPDATE: AJ banned from showing live TV. --lambert]

Guardian:

ElBaradei is preparing to address the crowd in Tahrir Square and has been handed a megaphone, Jack Shenker reports. [#1]

"ElBaradei stared out at the crowd with a half smile on his face. There were waves of excitement and optimism as he arrived. But but a notable number chanted anti-ElBaradei slogans [#7], asking 'how can you steal our revolution now?'", Jack told us in another phone update.

AJ, phone from Ziad Abdel Tawad, phone from TS: "about to speak." Guardian has phone report he has spoken. What's going on?

ElB crawler: Calls on Mub to step down.

12:20PM Int from Brookings Doha, Shadi Hamid: "A leaderless movement now has a leader." [But haven't seen that on the screen. WTF? Audio report above. --lambert]

[Frustrating. AJ cuts away to more "analysis." But what is the outcome in TS????]

12:23PM [Mub clip, Clinton clip, Brookings analysts. All this analysis, no data. I can get that in the US. I understand this is exactly why Mub closed the AJ Cairo office, but still!!! --lambert]

[Tweets from Democracy Now but no detail --lambert]

12:30PM Here we go, shot of ElB with megaphone [Coming from where?]

ElB via crawler: "Key demand for the regime to step down and start a new era to start."

[ElB stlll talking into megaphone and AJ analyst talking over. No feed?]

[Anch has phone connection to direct into TS, loses it]

Rep in TS: What we can agree about is that E will not go back to the way it was before Jan25. Whether substantial or minimal. People are no longer intimidated by the govt. All analysis! What did ElB say?!

12:37PM Speaker of Parliament reads droning statement on about stability.

12:38PM Demonstrations continue in Alexandria.

Anch: Will ElB's speech be shown on state TV? Rep: [When weasels fly out of my butt]

Rep: A political movement. Haven't heard "We want bread!" It's about lack of dignity and freedom. E have bad no chance to express grievances. ElB words are strong: He is calling for the end of the regime.

12:41PM Looks like the feed is not near live. Seeing tanks around the square, people holding signs, ElB voice from megaphone, huge scrum of cameras and cells. [From media savvy standpoint, this is awful. Couldn't somebody have gotten ElB a box to stand on? Or, heck, a tank! [#1] Yeah, Barcalounger stuff. But remember Yeltsin... --lambert]

12:43PM Twitter in real time [despite cut offs] Protesters show now sign of standing down. People will not leave. 100,000+ in TS. Many YT uploaded.

12:46PM An ElB clip, translated: "Most beautiful day. Each of us is a different Eyptian. Proud. Restore our rights and freedom. Cannot be reversed. Regime must step down."

12:47PM Tens of thousands demonstrate in Massoura for Mub to step down.

12:47PM Once crowds reach a critical mass, hard to control. Army doesn't want to get into that. If Mub is fatally wounded, sometimes the fatally wounded lash out. Presumably that is one of his options. ElB is in a public square and the whole world is watching. A very real worry that violence will break out. Tonight may be decisive. Hard to imagine this going on day after day. Cairo is a war zone. The country is falling apart. This can't continue. ElB "move the ball forward."

12:50PM New round of loud cheers, loud chanting. [What?!??!]

12:53PM MB statement [#3]: Casualties four times stated. Cancel emerg law. National unity govt, no NDP. elections under judiciary, since judges invalidated previous elections. Don't want looting or destruction. [MB prison break.]

[FWIW, I think what will happen is that the TS crowd will partly disperse, return the neighborhoods, and ElB's message.... Will be processed tonight, results to follow --lambert]

More from the Democracy Now twitter:
Lots of rumors spreading thru square. Baradei definitely spoke but unclear if he left and if so why. Trying to find out

People saying Baradei fainted or something and went home. People standing up and leaving disappointed.

[Dunno. If I were Mub, and I controlled the TS checkpoints with tanks, I would be very sure to have my people pass those checkpoints and sow whatever disinformation ("People saying") I could. --lambert]

1:03PM More here:

We are all Khaled Said Aljazeera reporter: ElBaradei is not feeling well & had to leave Tahrir square without doing a speech.
44 minutes ago

[But that's not true, since we have the speech. So indeed this looks like disinformation. Both reports via Twitter, I might add. Interesting! --lambert]

1:08PM More from AJ live blog:

[ElB]You have taken back your rights and what we have begun cannot go back...We have one main demand -- the end of the regime and the beginning of a new stage, a new Egypt...I bow to the people of Egypt in respect. I ask of you patience, change is coming in the next few days...

1:09PM Finally, corres on ground in TS, very hard to hear:

Rep direct in TS: As walk through the square, 100s chant different anti-govt slogans, nationalist sentiment everywhere, E flags [#18], most interesting slogan "At least Ben-Ali had some shame and left!" [#7]

One sign won't leave, groups walking around the square make sure keep square clean [#174], because we won't leave until Mub leave. [Prayers near tank, [#20]]

Anch: Any military increase? Rep: Army is here because of the buildings. As I walk along, speak with soldiers, but answer is "They will not fire one bullet at the citizens." Still the question, nobody is quite sure what their role will be in shaping the future of the country.

Rep from the burbs: Driving, 200 meters checkpoints. More sophisticated now, people set up traffic barricades, flashlights to signal, inventing their own armbands. Becoming very organized [#198]. Most interesting thing: Police back on streets. Saw 5 police trucks, since there was been no police presence at all. Trucks with interior ministry troops. Atmosphere was calm. Very interesting to see coming hours to see if there are more police in the coming hours and if so, what kind of reception they get.

Link to all AJ audio clips.

1:29PM Police have returned to the streets of Cairo, at least in a small number.

1:30PM Comments Audio reports from AJ feed hereay-to-tahrir-square/#comment-2298939">elsewhere that army fired on crowd in TS, then reports army fired into air to show support, no confirmation anywhere. [See below at 1:49PM and 2:05PM]

1:34PM Rep Alexandria, conversation protester with tank commander: "As long as it is peaceful, we support you."

1:43PM Audio reports from AJ feed at feeds at 12:39 PM and 12:04PM (that can't be linked to, grr). This is the best reporting from TS I've been able to find. No word on ElB fainting, so that's most likely disinformation. As a speech, not impressive; nothing to stand on, nothing to hear; crowd not galvanized. Afterwards, "milling around." That said, it may be the fact of the speech is enough. But whatever it was, it was not a "Man on a White Horse" moment. That may, in fact, be a good thing. We shall see!

1:47PM And where is Gamal?

1:49PM This looks like the word on the military firing:

Al Jazeera's correspondent, reporting from the scene, said that demonstrators confronted a fire truck, at which point army troops fired into the air in a bid to disperse them.

He said the protesters did not move back, and a tank commander then ordered the fire truck to leave. When the truck moved away from the square, the thousands of protesters erupted into applause and climbed onto the tank in celebration, hugging soldiers [#33].

Not sure why the firetruck, but I'm thinking that the fire hoses would have been directed against the demonstrators.

2:05PM AJ reporter, woman, therefore probably Alexandria or Suez: Many reports of troops firing into the air in support of the demonstrators [#148].

2:07PM Anch has a TS witness on the phone. What your reaction? to ElB? Int: Couldn't see anything. [VERY hard to hear] Anch: ElB the type of rhetoric you want to hear? Int: ElB talking to many political parties. His speech was only audible to a few. Anch: We've been hearing that way forward needs this kind of figurehead. Would you support? Int: ElB is trying to work with the movement without building the movement. [Again, VERY hard to hear, and clearly a very complicated message that was just not audible. --lambert]

2:16PM Rep: People won't leave, gathering sticks for fires, giving water to each other. Walking around, bumped into a MB member released from prison, bumped into daughter of ???? who reported live fire [see above for that, I think] ... [lost connection].

2:32PM [Shot of Gamal. He looks to me like Rahm. Same supercilious eyebrows.]

2:35PM Still 100K+ in TS.

2:35PM [Slowing down, stories are starting to repeat. --lambert]

2:38PM sharifkouddous

Making it home through the checkpoints in Cairo:

Army checkpoint in Zamalek. Armored vehicles & several soldiers. Checked my ID, a few questions and I am waved through

passed thru neighborhood patrol. Most holding sticks, teenager holding shotgun. They gave me yellow armband to wear to avoid harassment

So many neighborhood patrols. Young and old men man posts check incoming cars and IDs

Finally home. I counted 14 checkpoints on the way [#198]

2:40PM Reuters: O has called foreign leaders supporting "orderly transition."

Reuters:

In the two working days after the protests erupted last Tuesday, which was a bank holiday, Egyptians and foreign investors transferred hundreds of millions of dollars out of Egypt, currency traders estimated.

The government had $36 billion in foreign reserves at end-December, central bank figures showed. According to a January 27 note by Citigroup, it also had $21 billion of additional assets with commercial banks at end-October -- its so-called "unofficial reserves."

These numbers suggest there is no immediate danger of a balance of payments crisis. But scenes of chaos at Cairo's main airport on Sunday, as both foreigners and Egyptians tried to get flights out of the country, indicated outflows of money could reach damaging levels over the medium term.

Official figures are not available but a dealer at a medium-sized bank based in Cairo, who declined to be named, said clients at his medium-sized bank alone had transferred $150 million out of the country in two days. Some bankers said total outflows of funds from Egypt might have been at least $500 million per day last week.

If outflows continued at that speed without accelerating, Egypt could lose over a quarter of its official reserves within a month.

2:49PM [AJ shifts coverage to Tunisia. That's a huge tell, no? --lambert]

Reuters on ElB working the bobbleheads in Versailles today [#11]:

ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace laureate for his work with the U.N. nuclear agency, said it was only a matter of time before Mubarak, who has ruled Egypt for three decades, stepped down. He urged President Barack Obama to take a stand.

"It is better for President Obama not to appear that he is the last one to say to President Mubarak, 'It's time for you to go," he told CNN.

That shows an acute understanding of Obama's character.

ElBaradei, a possible candidate in Egypt's presidential election this year, dismissed U.S. calls for Mubarak to enact sweeping democratic and economic reforms in response to the protests.

"The American government cannot ask the Egyptian people to believe that a dictator who has been in power for 30 years would be the one to implement democracy. This is a farce," he told the CBS program "Face the Nation."

Yeppers.

"This first thing which will calm the situation is for Mubarak to leave, and leave with some dignity. Otherwise I fear that things will get bloody. And you (the United States) have to stop the life support to the dictator and root for the people."

Grim laughter, since obviously O can't do that, since his owners won't let him! So it will be interesting to see how O's handlers manage to frame the Egyptian situtation as having nothing to do with the US at all (see under GINI co-efficient).

"I have been authorized -- mandated -- by the people who organized these demonstrations and many other parties to agree on a national unity government,"

And the youth?

"I hope that I should be in touch soon [Interesting. Not already?] with the army and we need to work together. The army is part of Egypt."

3:05PM DC rep: O Called Turkey, the Saudis, and Israel Sat, and the UK Sun [poodle!]. Anch: If Mub won't listen to US, then whom? Rep: It's no accident that O reached out to these govts, since the stability of their own govts will need to be taken into account. Anch: US playing catchup? Why this not done a year ago? Rep: Response could be: We've been busy with Iraq, Afghan, I/P..... Should note that on Thurs, when protests were gaining steam, State says were simply letting our ambassadors talk. Reallly begged the question why not done out of State or the WH? [And "orderly transition" is indeed the talking point... --lambert]

3:07PM Steel monopoly headquarters owned by Gamal [context counts] was gutted.

3:08PM Mood changes. Some cars with speakers driving around saying foreigners are inciting disorder. People are struggling to prevent city from sliding into anarchy. Some look back for stability to a week ago.

* * *

[3:26PM Taking a break now, since things seem to slow down. Probably Mub will step down as soon as I step away from the computer! --lambert]

* * *

[top] SIDEBAR: Juan Cole on neo-liberalism

Juan Cole backgrounder:

But whereas Abdel Nasser’s socialist policies had led to a doubling of the average real wage in Egypt 1960-1970, from 1970 to 2000 there was no real development in the country.

Sounds familiar.

A successful government would need to have the ever-increasing numbers of city people on its side. But there, the Neoliberal policies pressed on Hosni Mubarak by the US since 1981 were unhelpful. [Quelle surprise!] Egyptian cities suffer from high unemployment and relatively high inflation. The urban sector has thrown up a few multi-millionaires, but many laborers fell left behind.

The state was thus increasingly seen to be a state for the few. Its old base in the rural middle classes was rapidly declining as young people moved to the cities. It was doing little for the urban working and middle classes. An ostentatious state business class emerged, deeply dependent on government contracts [rent-seeking] and state good will, and meeting in the fancy tourist hotels. But the masses of high school and college graduates reduced to driving taxis or selling rugs (if they could even get those gigs) were not benefiting from the on-paper growth rates of the past decade.

Sounds familiar.

[T]he income gained from increased trade largely went to a small class of investors. For instance, from 1991 the government sold 150 of 314 state factories it put on the block, but the benefit of the sales went to a narrow sliver of people.

The Nasserist state, for all its flaws, gained legitimacy because it was seen as a state for the mass of Egyptians, whether abroad or domestically.

Sounds familiar. And the colonial, imperial difference:

The present regime is widely seen in Egypt as a state for the others– for the US, Israel, France and the UK– and as a state for the few– the Neoliberal nouveau riche. Islam plays no role in this analysis because it is not an independent variable.

So, interesting.

* * *

Throwing Mub under the bus is now thoroughly bipartisan. William Kristol in (ugh) the Weekly Standard:

The prestigious and, since its formation less than a year ago, consistently ahead-of-the-curve Working Group on Egypt, co-chaired by Michele Dunne of Carnegie and Robert Kagan of Brookings, has just issued a new statement late Saturday. The Group includes Middle East and foreign policy experts ranging from Elliott Abrams of the Council of Foreign Relations and Ellen Bork of the Foreign Policy Initiative to Tom Malinowski of Human Rights Watch and Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress. Its members have been warning for months that the situation in Egypt is unstable, and they’ve been urging the U.S. government to take a more active role in planning for a post-Mubarak Egypt. They’re now calling for a suspension of aid to Egypt until the Egyptian government commits to free and fair elections and the transfer of power to a legitimate government.

For what it’s worth, I’m in complete agreement. The fact is that Mubarak is now part of the problem, not part of the solution. His attempt to hang on to power is now an obstacle to stability in Egypt, to say nothing of considerations of freedom for the Egyptian people and the long-term interests of the United States. Surely, I would say, it’s time for the U.S. government to take an active role (much but not all of it behind the scenes), working with the army and civil and political organizations to bring about a South Korea/Philippines/Chile-like transition in Egypt, from an American-supported dictatorship to an American-supported and popularly legitimate liberal democracy.

4:00PM Some chants against ElB in TS.

4:01PM Dan Nolan in Cairo in TS: People had two days to get used to tanks in the streets, and so they see the jets as ludicrous. [named, so old clip]

4:02PM Anch: TS? Rep: Campfires, waving flags [looks like a few thousand at most]. Anch: How compared to previous nights? Rep: Seems like more than last night "in the circle." It's cold. Anch: Still non-confrontation by military? Rep: Yes.

4:02PM New rep actually in TS: Taking break from chanting. Sitting down, meeting each other, sharing break [#174]. Huge variety of people. Chanting 6 year old on her father's shoulder: "The people demand the collapse of the regime." [#7] They feel they have already won, since they have broken the barrier of fear. However, has not happened yet. No tangible result. Anch: Impact of Elb? Rep: Majority welcome anyone, credibilitiy and protection. He is seen as a national figure, welcomed by 1000s, try to get close, but so many people so could not make full announcement he intended. Anch: Police? Rep: Not here. Asked people who long they will stays here, they say days, and they go back and protect their homes at night, then come back. Anch: Daily life? Food? Petrol? Rep: Price of bread three times, TS is in travel agency area, so definitely negative effect on economy, ask people, a few days make no difference. They see as small sacrifice. Anch: That's great.

4:14PM A protester from TS: Interesting scene. Dissenting voices, ElB said to be same as Mub. Anch: What is the prob protesters have with him? Rep: "stealing the revolution" Anch: Alternative? Rep: We don't want anyone, no "offer." Anch: Endorsed by MB. Any indications regime ready to enter negotiation? Rep: Mub not ready to concede power. Anch: Will military say "enough"? Rep: If happened, that would be a war crime. Don't think they're ready for that. Thousands would get killed.

4:25PM Anch: Youth don't think ElB understands them. Muslim televangelist int: Youth respect him. I feel there is a good opportunity with ElB. 22 million Int: Need to change Constitution to give us freedom. This is what the youth think.

4:26PM Rep: Sporadic gunfire (not in TS). Terrifies people. A real fear here. Not something they are used to. Anch: Last night neighborhood watch? Rep: We see groups of men on motorcycles, getting people to come out of their homes, give up everything. Speculation who they are: Prisoners, poor, or "thugs" taking advantage of the lawless state. Public feels is not a sense of security. Anch: Some "thugs" arrested with IDs. People's trust in sec services must be at all-time low. Rep: Yes. Feeling toward police is quite different. Anch: 1500 in TS. Rep: Very calm, sitting around reading poetry and cleaning the street [#174].

5:03PM Rep from TS: People handing out food and blankets. Anch: ElB in TS today? Rep: Stopped to speak with some people. There's division, some chant in opposition, feeling he's disengaged, he's held a high post, lived abroad, isn't attuned to E politcs. But what transpired is that the opposition said they would be happy for him to form a unity govt. Anch: Gunfire? Rep: Can confirm, military stopped a car with weapons, so probably "thugs."

[The above is important! --lambert]

5:07PM Top story on Kos right now: Bristol Palin, the wingnut welfare queen. Twits.

5:12PM NDP: Millions of E wish the pres to stay. Anch: Where are they? NDP: Why did it take him 30 yrs to appoint a VP? NDP: He was of the opinion that the VP as the upcoming Pres which he wanted to based on the will of the people [This is mere sadism by AJ! --lambert] NDP: Existence of VP is at the discretion of the Pres.

5:36PM Int: 40% of E live on less than $2.00 a day. He isn't just tone deaf, he's living in an alternative universe!

* * *

[top] SIDEBAR: Numerian on Davos

Great comment by Numerian at the Agonist:

If I were partying at Davos as a member of the global elite I would be very worried about the unexpected and unpredicted collapse of what everyone assumed were secure regimes in the Middle East. Can these people really say to themselves: "this can't happen in my country"? Probably a lot of the privileged people at Davos are not yet asking this question, but they should be, and they should start talking about the real possibility of social collapse in the industrialized West. They should talk about it in a way that does not rely on more police and military control over their own societies, though no doubt that is their first instinct in dealing with such a crisis.

If they can avoid that first instinct, and instead ask themselves what would make young people in the West take to the streets, they might find an answer in the the causes to the financial crisis that erupted in 2007. This crisis according to many of the actors was unpredicted and unexpected - "nobody could have seen this coming" is the refrain of many who were up to their ears in its development and implementation. The [Financial Crisis Inquiry] Commission says otherwise; it was fully predictable and avoidable. That is true, but we don't get to the root causes that tentacle back many decades. For example, if you want to know one possible source of disaffection among young people, think about the changes that occurred to the bankruptcy code in the US about five years ago. Banks were successful in making it impossible for those who enter bankruptcy from fully wiping out their debt. Those who lose their homes or can't manage their credit card bills are still forced to pay back what they owe even under bankruptcy. This is a form of financial servitude for life for many people, and more and more Americans are falling into this trap. Young people see this acutely with student loans, which can never be discharged in bankruptcy, which involve the federal government as the guarantor/enforcer of this form of servitude, and which now seem ironically useless in guaranteeing the borrower a happy and prosperous future as a college graduate. What sort of future, then, do young people have in the US? While they are materially better off than young Egyptians, their future prospects are turning out just as bleak.

* * *

8:04PM Rep at TS: Three more tanks arrive, and three red vans. 3AM, city is asleep. No cars on the road, very unusual. Anch: Foreboding? Change of mood? Rep: Hard to say. Peaceful today. Military most power today. But saw no change of mood. Protesters ran toward tanks, but no shouting or screaming and rest of TS remains calm. Tanks pushing buses in streets round TS [to block?] Incidents: Looting still going on. Looters "coming up in mini-buses" and taking people out of houses. This is new to E. Intense climate of fear. Anch: TS protesters down to only 100s.

* * *

8:22PM Int with Cairene resident Sedky Captured one with a machine gun. Anch: How?! Int: There were 60 of us. Handed over to military. Don't see as a common criminal. Machine gun to terrify people, make noise. Anch: Do keep hearing reports of looters captured and finding thug IDs. Are they succeeding in campaign of fear? Are you scared? Int: Kind of. Up all night. [hard to hear]

* * *

8:24PM Int: Two groups of people, the generals and the younger officers ($100K vs. $200. That's why soldiers will not shoot, they have no stake. But generals still loyal. These moves are childish measures ordered by Mub. The confusion of the military is due to that. The looting tactics will not work. We saw them in Tunisia. It won't work in E because there are enough people both their homes and protest. My real concern is a military coup supported by the US to replace one ally with another. If this revolution does not succeed in bringing a democratic regime, E will turn into an extremely violent, they will be even angrier at the US than Mub. Anch: What should US do? Int: Stay out. The coming E will very likely not be friendly to US because US policies are not popular in E. If US force to be "friends" that will be to attack the people. They have already lost E.

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Cairo instant analysis (3)

I really do need to take care of some RL stuff before tomorrow, so I can't write extended commentary on the day's events in Cairo. So a few quick thoughts:

1. Numerian has a great comment on the similarities between the Egyptian situation and our own, especially for youth. Go read, because the differences aren't nearly as great as you might think.

2. I was going to pontificate on what the Egyptian people were going to do tomorrow, but.... It's clear that the protesters are showing tremendous courage and determination. It also looks to me like the regime is going for a policy of slow strangulation of activism in the Tahrir Square, combined with attacks on the population by security forces turned night riders, which is creating a great deal of fear (as it should). Since all the media sources, including, really, AJ, have a dog in the fight, I don't have the first idea about how to assess the correlation of forces. The AJ guest who pointed out that the generals (rich) have one set of incentives, and the soldiers (relatively poor) have another struck a chord with me, and that may explain why the regime is moving so cautiously to deploy what they might regard as a fragile instrument. So, I think what matters tonight is this: Hundreds of thousands of protesters in Tahrir Square have now dispersed out into the neighborhoods, and have presumably discussed these matters with their neighbors and families. The outcome of those discussions, which we cannot know from our vantage point, will be the determining factor. Tomorrow we'll know more.

3. One thing that Cairo will be talking about in the neighborhoods is ElBaradei. I have to say that I was not impressed by his appearance, and I'm not sure that Egyptians were impressed. If you want to be a revolutionary leader, or even a regime changer, you've got to arrange to make yourself heard above the crowd! Think of Yeltsin on his tank. What would have happened if he had not been heard? I know that AJ was shut down, but the AJ camera would not have been able to hear him in any case. And so what? And surely ElBaradei could have arranged for his remarks to be distributed? Why did we have to piece everything together from reports phoned in to scattered media outlets? Not impressive. Even if AJ is, rather transparently, pushing him. For me, the key data point is that the crowd seemed no more energized after his speech than before. No movement, no chants, nothing (and some chants against him, too, though we can't know if that's genuine opposition or police infiltration).

4. The wild card is the youth. AJ and many outlets say this is a youth-driven movement (and maybe twitter and facebook are more important than I thought -- though twitter was used today to disseminate what was almost certainly disinformation about ELBaradie's speech). Well, where are the youth? What are they thinking and doing? If there's a source for this information, I don't know what it is.

UPDATE I'm forgetting that one thing the youth is doing is protecting the neighborhoods. Maybe that's why the TS crowds -- though all ages are there, for sure -- on average seem older.

Well, all for now. Good night!

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